Technology as savior: Computers and development in Indian popular cinema

Join TASCHA researcher Joyojeet Pal for a wonderful talk in the iSchool’s Research Conversations series. Here’s what he’ll be discussing:

Since the late 1990s, there has been increasing interest in the potential technology holds in alleviating social and economic challenges in the developing world. A great deal of academic attention has focused on the actual application of technologies towards developmental goals. The enthusiasm over such an application of technology is seen not just at the policy level, but equally much in a pervasive optimism broadly across the public discourse in many parts of the developing world. India, a country credited with reshaping its place in the world in the high-tech era, the prevalence of this discourse is particularly fascinating. Recent research on peoples’ imagination of computers in the Indian rural hinterland showed a strong role of information through popular media, especially cinema, in shaping ideas about technology. We look at the portrayal of computers and computer-users in various cinematic traditions within India since the 1990s and juxtapose these against western portayals of technology. The distinctions both between the Indian and western cinematic portrayals as well as those between films designed for different consumer audiences within India help comment on the atmosphere of aspiration around technology in present day India.

Date: January 1, 2009
Time: 2:30 to 4:00 PM
Mary Gates Hall, room 254